During my short visit to Mumbai, or Bombay, as it is called by the locals, the city surprised me with several things. The first thing that took me aback was that every time I lifted my head, my sight would come across a multitude of advertisements from different companies containing motivational phrases. Just at the airport, I was greeted by a poster saying, “Are you doing things you love, or are you just doing things?” Mumbai is a huge city that is known as Indian New York. However, when I looked down, I only saw the endless market with crowds of people. If I were to describe the uniqueness of this city, I would say it’s where the past and present meet.
I felt myself at a loss in Mumbai’s fast pace of life.
And then I arrived at Jaipur Gems - a company whose name is a synonym for flawless craftsmanship and traditions being demonstrated by Indian jewelers for several centuries. While I was walking upstairs, I noticed a man, peacefully sitting behind a glass door, who appeared to be having a pleasant conversation with a customer. I was greeted by a young assistant named Arwa. As she proceeded to inform me about the jewelry, her fast manner of speaking was very much in tune with Mumbai. Meanwhile I was keeping an eye on the glass door - the atmosphere behind it appeared to be more peaceful.
It wasn’t long before I was invited in. Mr. Padam Sacheti, the founder of Jaipur Gems was ready for our interview. As I sat down observing the room, I noticed that the wall behind Mr. Sacheti displayed a number of framed photographs. Most of the photos showed Mr. Sacheti shaking hands with various individuals and presenting them with some kind of awards. To this day, my memories of that relatively small room are filled with the music and passion of a life of the man I met.
My first questions were not about jewelry. In fact, not many of them were.
- Who are those people you are giving the awards to?
- These are people, who have made a significant contribution to the development of Indian classical music. It is the art that should be preserved. In 2005, we set up Jaipur Gems Charitable Trust for the promotion of Indian classical music and promising Indian classical musicians.
-Please, elaborate, why Indian classical music in particular?
- Because it gives me a feeling of piece, I can just listen to it and enjoy its beauty. Besides that, it’s traditional Indian art, and it needs to be preserved. Every citizen is obligated to preserve a legacy of the art of his/her nation. Hindustani Classical Indian music is our tradition.
In 2005, my father passed away. He loved Indian classical music and inspired me. Therefore, I decided to honor the memory of him.
Now we are giving scholarships to the young, talented people. We also reward those musicians who have been contributing themselves to Indian classical music for 30-40 years. So, we have already given a “Lifetime Achievement Award” to 15 people. In addition, we organize Indian classical music concerts to promote this art. Tickets for professional concerts cost a lot, and not many people can afford to attend them. We invite everybody to our events, and they are free.
- What does music mean to you?
- Indian classical music is very difficult to understand, as you may know. You have to learn how to do it. That’s why for the past six months now, I have a music teacher who comes to help me understand it. Even though I do not play an instrument or sing, I still enjoy Indian classical music very much. There is a saying in Hindi, and it translates as follows, “There is the word Kansen, where Kaan means an ear, and Kansen means to hear and enjoy. There is also Tansen - it was the name of a musician of the Mughal emperor Akbar. That’s why Tansen means a very talented performer.” So, Kansen is enough for me.
- Which generation of jewelers do you represent?
- It is very difficult to say for sure. I saw at least three generations in my time. However, I think it goes much farther back than that.
When I was a child, I lived in Rajasthan with my family and the families of my father’s brothers. We were 24 cousins living in a huge haveli. We had big grounds where we often played cricket. About 50 servants were at our disposal. In those days, every servant had a distinct function. Khidmatgar khidmat hi karta tha; khaana nahi pakaata; pani nahi pilaata (The butler would only perform his job duties; he wouldn’t cook; he wouldn’t pour water). It was a different era. Today I live in a flat in Mumbai. I was the first generation in my family to bring the business to Mumbai. We started in a tiny space behind Glaxo in Worli. Now, we not only have a bigger showroom in a better location, but we also have showrooms in Chennai and Coimbatore, and my son sells jewelry online. So, things have changed.
- The times are changing indeed! How do you adapt to the changes?
- When it is time to change, I keep two principles in mind.
First, I remember that reputation comes from the past. In my opinion, reputation is the motivator to achieve more in business. People need to know that if a company has earned a good name, it means they have dealt fairly in business. This way, the next generation of a family business will enjoy the support of the past reputation.
The second principle I keep in mind is that techniques of jewelry making should be adapted to suit the needs of the customers. For instance, if we take our traditional golden bracelets, people used to wear them, each weighing around 100 grams. Today, we preserve the traditional Indian design, however we have modified the bracelets to weigh 50-60 grams of gold, so that they can be conveniently worn every day. Look, how delicate is the workmanship!
- In your opinion, what type of jewelry will hold its value throughout many generations?
- When a good jeweler creates a piece, he always keeps in mind two things. First, the jewelry will be worn by multiple generations. Second, the jewelry he is creating has to have monetary value. When a craftsman combines those two principals in his work, he will build a good reputation and his jewelry will be valued for many generations to come.
- Do you create only limited edition jewelry?
-Yes, mostly. Both of my sons graduated as Gemologists and they believe that everything we create should be of limited edition. They try to make not more than ten pieces of each design. Then we can slightly modify the design, but we never remake exact same jewelry again.
- Jaipur Gems specializes in the art of Jadau, doesn’t it?
- Yes! We are the manufacturers of Jadau jewelry. For the creation of Jadau we need pure 24 karat gold which is called “Kundan”, and any gems - either polki diamonds, rubies, or emeralds, basically any. We take 24 karat gold, and transform it into thin, foil-like sheets. Then we melt them at room temperature and use for the setting of the stones. The completion of one piece of jewelry requires different artisans. The first person makes a gold frame. The second one will do minacari (if a piece includes enamel). The third person will work on design and placement for the stones. The fourth person will prepare the gold. The fifth artisan will do Kundan work. Another master will be responsible for decoration, and the last person is the one that will be wearing the jewelry!
- Where is your manufacturing facility located?
- In Mumbai and Chennai. I, myself, am from Jaipur.
- I love that city! It’s so royal!
- Me too. People in Jaipur respect each other, and life is not as fast as it is in Mumbai.
- Please, share your thoughts on love and respect.
- I love my grandkids more than anyone else.
- How do you demonstrate your love to them?
- I give them everything they desire. Any ambition of theirs, I try to fulfill.
- Really? (laughing)
- Do they abuse this privilege?
- Not really. I can see their needs and desires even before they tell me about them.
- In India majority of people have a family business. How to build good family relationships and not to argue?
- It’s hard to explain. First of all, because I am the head of the family, I take care of the ambitions of every family member. It’s important to understand the needs of others. Our ambitions need to have boundaries. When we do not try to impose our opinions on others — that unites people. I keep those things in mind and do everything in my power to unite our family. If there is no integrity in the family, the responsibility falls on the head of it, and that’s me.
Second, I believe it’s my duty to maintain a good family reputation in society.
- Who creates your jewelry designs?
- Our primary designer is my wife. As of now, I only take care of the financial aspect of the business. Mostly because everyone else considers it boring. There is a saying: “There is always a woman behind a success of a man.” In our family it is exactly so. My wife is my driving force, she gives me wise pieces of advice and takes part in everything we do. We support each other, and that contributes to the success of our business.
Jaipur Gems jewelry is worn by celebrities like Priyanka Chopra, Vidya Balan, Kajal Aggarwal. Deepika Padukone was seen wearing classic Jaipur Gem earrings on her Chennai express movie premier.
- Do you believe that jewelry reveals certain energy?
- I would say, jewelry is made by our energy! (Laughing)
- Does it mean that you do not believe that jewelry can be a talisman?
- That’s correct. I think the power of jewelry is in the pleasure it brings to the people wearing it. Also, when people invest into jewelry, in hard times it’s easier to get their money back.
- Do you mean that if I sell the jewel, I can get my money back? If I buy a bracelet, for example, I cannot easily sell it.
- You can. It is always easier to sell jewelry than a house or other property.
- Perhaps, but how much will I be able to get back?
- It depends who you bought it from, and how much you paid for it. If you paid too much for the bracelet, do not expect to get all your money back. It is very important to buy jewelry from the right people and for the appropriate price.
-Interesting. What kind of diamonds do you use? Nowadays, almost everyone in India uses G and H color diamonds.
- No. Nowadays H and I are used. G and H were used approximately 5 years ago.
-Please, share with me your plans for the future.
- We are in the time of internet business. My son is about to launch an online store in America.
- What advice could you give to the next generation?
- My advice would be to earn a good name and reputation first. If a company produces good quality merchandise and has excellent customer service, then money will come automatically. There are no shortcuts in business.
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